Wartime memories

1943 'Bofors' gun on the seafront

By Margaret Stewart

February 1943: Gunner Bruno Anderson and his Bofors gun & crew were emplaced right across the street from the Grand Hotel. You can see him and his crew in this photograph. I know that it is a very long shot - but does anyone remember meeting him? He was 20 years old and exceptionally cute! While shooting at a German bomber, his gun emplacement was bombed and he was injured. I'd like to know to what hospital he would have been taken. Can anyone suggest where this might have been?

Also would like to know if anybody has the name of the elderly lady who is the daughter of the managers of the Grand Hotel during WW2. Apparently she is presently writing a history of the Grand and its involvement with The War, particularly at the time of Dunkirk. She would have been a young girl in 1943 and I would really like to contact her.

Photo:Gunner Bruno Anderson and his Bofors gun & crew, March 1943

Gunner Bruno Anderson and his Bofors gun & crew, March 1943

From the private collection of Margaret Stewart

This page was added on 13/01/2008.
Comments about this page

The general manager of the Grand at the time was Mr S. T. Smith. His daughter, Lady Pamela, has indeed written a book about her life and her experience growing up in the Grand Hotel where she was born and raised. I have had the opportunity to read a proof of the book and it is of great interest.  It is titled "Home was a Grand Hotel" and will be launched on October 16th 2008 at the Grand Hotel. Her publishers are the Book Guild Publishing.
This is an amazing picture. Do you have the original or is this a copy?

By Antonio Lopez Bustos (25/05/2008)

Yes a great photo. The Sussex County Hospital in Eastern Road was the usual hospital for that type of injury. Does anyone remember large guns being installed in the Kemp Town undercliff walk area in case of invasion?

By Ken Burt (02/06/2010)

The larger guns were anti-aircraft, positioned on the Pitch & Putt at Roedean. They could have fired out to sea if required as they were on the higher ground with no obstructions. On one occasion, a mortar company came down to the cliff top opposite, and practised lobbing mortars out to sea. There were also some large guns placed on the coast road at the bottom of Sussex Square and traffic along the coast was diverted via Chesham Road and Roedean Road for the time they were there -only a matter of months as far as I can recall.

By Tony Viney (08/06/2010)

Considering that we are told that enemy fighters regularly strafed the Brighton/Hove promenade (my Father, as a lad, was on the receiving end of one of these strafing runs) - they must have been kamikaze Luftwaffe pilots or had a death wish... This gun in the picture above was NOT the only one along the prom - there was at least one on top of the Embassy Court near Waterloo Street, and there may well have been others ....

By Paul Edwards (04/08/2010)

There was in fact a Bofors and a Lewis gun emplacement every 50 yards along the top road from Rock Gardens to Black Rock. The steps from the lower prom to the top were all cut in half. As an independent child, myself and a cousin were able to wander safely all over Brighton. My memories of wartime Brighton are very strong. We once followed a drifting mine past the pier as far as Black Rock before we were noticed. The soldiers were always very friendly and never seemed to mind us playing all over their tanks, most were Canadian. I could write pages but do not have the time. Cheers all.

By Peter (08/03/2011)

At the top of Canfield Rd and the bottom of Eastbourne Road there was a Bofor gun, and there was another up on the hillside where the Hollingdean Estate is now.

By Viv Webb (19/08/2012)

My unit, the 112th LAA Rgt was stationed in Hove during March '43 and I was sitting next to the Bofor stationed at the kids paddling pool in Hove during one of the tip and run raids.

By Ron Goldstein (12/05/2013)

Peter..... you mentioned a drifting mine bobbing along. I remember that happening just by the West End Cafe on Hove Seafront. This would have been 1949-51 era. Everybody was enjoying themselves when someone spotted this black object, probably 3-400yards out. "Clear the Beaches" came the call and that was the end of Sunday afternoon. Back to Portslade on the bus. Ah, that definitely puts the incident before 1954 as we had a car that summer.

By Christopher McBrien (12/05/2013)

Peter - if you haven't got the time to sit and write your memories, then 'speak' them into a computer or dictaphone device. Many of them have removable memory cards and can store hours of speech. Get an old mate around and have a recorded conversation, one memory sparks another. Just do it!

By Christopher McBrien (13/05/2013)

Almost the only bit of the seafront WWII defences remaining is a cream painted machine gun post tucked into the east corner of the West Pier steps, just next to Lorraine's cafe. It currently has some boarding around it but it is visible if you look over the boards halfway up the steps. I do seafront walks and in 20 years of doing them I have never had anyone say 'I knew it was there'! It is always a revelation and when I point out it has been there since probably 1940, it always astonishes people.

By Geoffrey Mead (15/05/2013)

Does anyone have any recollection of the Polish airforce guys who were stationed in Brighton during WWII? I have been told they were billeted in the Grand Hotel.

By Rita Park (23/06/2013)

My Dad (born & lived in Brighton) was a Bofors gun 'driver' in 38th LAA Regt but they were in North Africa.

By Ashley Leaney (08/10/2014)

Viv Webb - I was born in Milner Road and remember going up to 'The Gun' to play as a kid in the late 50s as does my brother, Lawrence, some years before. Obviously, there was no gun there but I remember the big concrete bases.
Later the site was cleared and Canfield Close was built. I used to walk home that way from Stanmer School.

By Ashley Leaney (08/10/2014)

Thanks to everyone who replied to the posting of this photo.  I am just looking at it on PInterest right now.  I am sorry for the delay in replying, and I'm afraid I had assumed that there would be no one who remembered the crews or Bofors guns - so I just gave up.  I am the woman who posted the photo - it is an original and is in the possession of my father's second daughter.  But there is a copy online somewhere - by now I forget where I found it.  The Bofors gunners were also stationed on some cliffs near a place named Hastings, and there is a photo of a Messerschmidt coming in for a bombing run - it is online if you search had for it.  It's my understanding that a small Hotel or pub was bombed in the Hastings area and was full of Canadian servicemen at the time.  The cute gunner you see in the above photo (Bruno Anderson) was wounded - I assume they were all having some off-time in the pub when it was bombed.  He was wounded pulling some buddies out from the rubble I believe.  Anyway, thanks for all of the memories and local history that you all have posted.  My apologies for not responding sooner.  If anybody wants to contact me directly I am at radioladies@shaw.ca  The gunner at the top of the gun is Bruno Anderson, his buddy "Mac" is the hawk-nosed young man to his right.  Royal Canadian Artillery.  Cheers!

By Margaret Stewart (01/02/2016)

Once these guns were placed along the seafront and I remember another was sited at the bottom of Camelford Street. The German raiders once shot at, unloaded their bombs and flew off prior to that they simply flew on into the town or avoided the guns by coming in further east and then bombed crossing Brighton. They usually flew below the radar at sea level then popped up shot up and bomber and got off before the Spits could get to them.

By Ken Ross (01/02/2016)

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